Miami Heat mailbag: Could the Heat make a move for Chicago’s Jimmy Butler?

 

The Bulls are denying they are looking to move Jimmy Butler. But you never know. (AP Photo)
The Bulls are denying they are looking to move Jimmy Butler. But you never know. (AP Photo)

MIAMI – Heat fans are starting to look ahead and wondering how their team is going to add enough pieces to once again become a contender.

Two of our questions this week deal with restocking this team, one through what would be a blockbuster trade and the other through the draft.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44. It’s a long season and we are sure there is a lot on your mind concerning the Heat.

@ChrisHypeTrain: You think the Heat have a chance of trading for Jimmy Butler?

Tom D’Angelo: This has become an interesting development in Chicago. The Bulls were listening to offers for the 6-foot-7 Butler last summer but decided to rebuild around the 27-year-old forward by adding Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade.

Well. … that has not worked out so good. The Bulls are No. 9 in the East at 19-20 and Rondo has been benched, I mean, really benched. He went from starting to not even playing in five consecutive games.

Now reports are the organization could blow it all up and deal Butler, who is averaging 25.0 points and 6.7 rebounds. The Bulls are denying all reports they do not feel they can build around Butler and are looking to move their best player. But who knows what will happen if Chicago does not make the playoffs or it sneaks in and flames out in the first round. Chicago clearly was kicking the tires on a Butler trade last summer.

Would the Heat include their draft pick (it would have to be swapped or they would have to select the player and trade him) in a deal for Butler? Good question and it likely depends on where the pick lands. But this we do know: Heat president Pat Riley is on that never-ending quest to land a “whale” and Butler would be that whale. Butler on the wing with Hassan Whiteside in the middle, possibly Goran Dragic as the point guard and whoever remains from the young core is a great start to getting this team back into contention.

Another from @ChrisHypeTrain: How does James Johnson fit into the Heat’s long term plans?

Tom D’Angelo: JJ has been the team’s best off-season signing. He has settled into a bench role and become one of the bright spots in a season in which there have not been many.

Johnson is aggressive. He’s a solid defender and the biggest surprise has been his offense and he is hugely popular with his teammates, especially playing the role of unofficial enforcer (remember: Johnson is a second-degree black belt). He is averaging 11.7 points while shooting just under 50 percent and, most surprisingly, has made better than 38 percent of this threes. He entered the year a .266 career three-point shooter with 97 3s in seven seasons. He already has 47 in just 35 games with the Heat.

Johnson, 29, signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Heat last summer. He is saying all the right things about the organization and appreciates the opportunity he has received. If something can be worked out (Johnson is playing himself into a substantial raise), the Heat would love to have Johnson back as a valuable bench piece on a contending team.

@HeatMilGrau: What draft prospect do you think is going to fit?

Tom D’Angelo: A lot of questions lately about the draft and with Miami sitting at 11-29 after Tuesday’s 107-95 loss at Golden State and with the second-worst record in the NBA, rightfully so.

With every loss, the Heat get closer to the top of the draft so, for now, we can start focusing in on the top prospects.

First, we know the Heat can use some outside shooting, this is obvious from a team that is 26th in the league with a .437 field goal percentage, we know they do not need a center barring a blockbuster trade involving Whiteside and we do not know if Dragic will be on this roster next season.

So with that, the top four prospects on nbadrart.net’s board – 6-8 Josh Jackson of Kansas, 6-4 Markelle Fultz of Washington, 6-10 Jonathan Isaac of Florida State and 6-6 Lonzo Ball of UCLA – could all fit.

Jackson is a two-way player who can handle the ball as well as play down low and guard several positions.

Fultz is a combo guard who could play alongside a point guard like Dragic. He is an elite athlete.

Isaac has the size and runs the floor like a guard. He can handle and shoot the mid-range jumper.

Ball’s strength is as a floor general and will be better suited as a point guard but has range on his shot (and, yes, the shot looks awkward). Pat Riley was at Ball’s game Sunday night in L.A.

 

Miami Heat mailbag: How good has Tyler Johnson been playing?

 

Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson

MIAMI – Tyler Johnson has been an invaluable piece to the Heat this season as a sixth man and energizer off the bench.

But just how good is he? That’s one of our questions in this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag. We answer that and more.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). It’s a long season and we are sure there is a lot on your mind concerning the Heat.

@IDB1127: On a scale of 1 to 10, how good has TJ been this season?

Tom D’Angelo: Johnson has had a solid season coming off the bench, averaging 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 turnovers while shooting 41.1 percent. Add in two other factors: He is in the first year of a $50 million contract and has been thrust into the role as a backup point guard, a position he still is learning, and he is doing this with a lot more on his plate.

Coach Erik Spoelstra loves Tyler’s energy and believes he is in the perfect role for this stage of his career. Where he needs to improves is his consistency and to avoid the uneven play we sometimes see. He has had slumps 7-of-29, 6-of-25 and 10-of-30 from the floor. But overall, the Heat are very pleased.

I would give him a 7.5.

@CPoTweetsStuff: Are you aware if any of the players have had contact with Chris Bosh?

Tom D’Angelo: First of all, just seven players on this roster ever have played with Bosh, so the number is limited. While we are sure there are more, two in particular have mentioned their conversations with Bosh, whose career with the Heat is over after failing a preseason physical because of recurring blood clot issues.

Udonis Haslem knows Bosh better than anybody on this roster, having played been a teammate since Bosh joined the Heat in 2010. UD said he frequently speaks with Bosh but those conversations, he says, have nothing to do with basketball but are more personal, about life and family.

Josh Richardson recently told Anthony that Bosh was the person who has helped him the most while Richardson was recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss training camp and the start of the season. “I talk to Chris Bosh a lot,” Richardson said. “He’s kind of helped me be patient and not rush it. He’s been good.”

@GusPTY: Which Draft Prospect do u think fits the best for Miami? I like Lonzo lol hes more a passer than a selfish attacker

Tom D’Angelo: One thing is certain: 2017 is a very deep draft. And one thing is getting closer to being a certainty: The Heat will have a lottery pick. Put those together and Miami should add an important piece for its future.

We know the Heat can use outside shooting and we know they do not need a center (barring a blockbuster trade). What we don’t know is if Goran Dragic will be back or if they will need a point guard. But you mention Lonzo Ball, a 6-foot-6 point guard from UCLA, who is averaging 8.8 assists along with 15 points. He would be an instant impact player but the question is, will the Heat’s pick be high enough to get Ball who is being mentioned as the No. 1 overall pick?

Others that would be a nice fits include Kansas’ 6-8 Josh Jackson who also is in the mix for the top pick; FSU’s 6-10 Jonathan Isaac; and a pair of Duke freshmen, 6-8 Jayson Tatum and 6-10 Harry Giles. Another point guard expected to be taken at the top of the draft is Washington’s 6-4 Markelle Fultz.

Any would be a significant addition depending on trades but it’s tough to project where the Heat will fall in the lottery and who will be available.

[James Johnson hopes he’s found an NBA home with the Miami Heat]

[Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow in full contact practice for first time in month; could play Wednesday]

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